The Cool Kids

The Cool Kids are probably the hottest new thing to come out of Chicago. Self-described as “the new Black version of the Beastie Boys,” they’re hip hop for hipsters, hipster-hop you might say. BMX bikes, stunna shades, fruity pebbles, “with a little bit of gold and a pager.” This is the kind of stuff they rap about, spat over a minimalist beat to accentuate their catchy rhyming schemes. They’re not interested in pimpin or slappin hoes. As their name suggests, they’re more interested in just being cool. Trendy without trying.

The Cool Kids – 88

This track is a salute to the freshest era of hip hop with an anthemic chorus from a line in Nas’ “Made You Look”. It’s mostly a rapper’s brag, but instead of showing off how hard or street they are, they school wack emcees on how to be cool. Modern day fly machines. Graduates of Cooley High. They show off just how fresh they are with comparisons to Will Smith and references to the Safety Dance.

The Cool Kids – Gold And A Pager (Klevers Moon Walk Remix)
The Cool Kids vs. Starski – Stunnas On

These other two songs are from their Collected & Compiled Mixtape. They’ve had one EP out for a while (Totally Flossed Out) and have recently released another (The Bake Sale) just a week ago. They don’t really care for release dates, and said that we can expect their album to drop “When Fish Ride Bicycles” … okay no, they didn’t really say that. They said it would be sometime this year. But that’s what the name of their album was reported to be.

They will also be performing at the Rock the Bells concert, with another of my chi-town favorites, Kid Sister, and not to mention a bunch of other hip hop legends and heavy weights.

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— , May 26, 2008    1 Comment

I first heard of Spiral Beach when I saw them opening for The Go! Team last year. Later, in December, I bumped into Airick and Maddy, the two lead singers of the band, at Bathurst Subway Station downtown. They told me about these free concerts at The Drake Hotel that take place every Monday, and that these concerts were supposed to be some kind of secret. “No one’s supposed to know about them,” they said. Spiral Beach was to play at one of these concerts on January 14th, and Airick and Maddy invited me to come and see their show.

The Drake Hotel is this great little place on Queen St. West claiming to be a “hotbed of culture,” and has an archive of newspaper and magazine clippings on their website to boast about it. The weekly free concerts take place at the Underground and are called “Elvis Mondays”. Apparently these concerts aren’t that much of a secret as they are advertised on their website and MySpace. However, they don’t do very much advertising on top of that. The tradition of Elvis Mondays was started by William New, and they’ve had notable bands such as Billy Talent and Sum 41 perform there before they were even famous. On Monday January 14th, Elvis Mondays celebrated their 30th anniversary.

Spiral Beach consists of Airick Woodhead (anime-haired guitarist), his brother Daniel Woodhead (olfactory-challenged drummer), family friend Maddy Wilde (fashionista keyboardist), and school mate Dorian Wolfe (New York bassist). These kids are only about 18 years old, just graduated high school, and already have their second full length album out, “Ball,” which was released in October last year. This band has been around since 2003 and released their first self-titled album in 2005. They’ve toured with The Hidden Cameras and with Sloan, have played a bunch of festival circuits (their manager said that they might be playing at Virgin Festival this summer), and this year, they’re going overseas for the first time to perform in the U.K.

Spiral Beach – Casual T

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— , January 18, 2008    Comments Off on Spiral Beach: The Drake Hotel

With Stars finishing off their Canada tour, I figured it would only be appropriate to write a piece in honour of them. However, I figured as far as Canadian indie music goes, Stars is just one iPod commercial away from being mainstream. So I figured everyone probably knows about them by now, right? So instead, here’s a piece on Torquil Campbell’s side project: Memphis. If you like Stars’ new stuff, I think you’ll love Memphis’ most recent album, A Little Place in the Wilderness. For me, this album would be the perfect selection for a rainy Sunday afternoon, where all you wanna do is go back to sleep and keep dreaming. But maybe that’s just me.

Every word on this album is imbued with raw and powerful emotion, softly and sincerely sung and spoken by Torquil Campbell. The album starts off with “I Dreamed We Fell Apart” (which is actually the title of their album prior to this one). This song sets up the rest of the album to have the feeling like you don’t know if you’re awake or still dreaming (like I said, great for rainy Sunday afternoons). Then it continues with “In The Cinema Alone” which is the first of three love songs in the album. Of these three love songs, my favorite has to be “I’ll Do Whatever You Want”, because of its dark lyrics which remind me of your typical evil Stars love song. But the most noteworthy might be “In The Highest Room” where Torquil gets his wife Moya to whisper a story about a couple who have been together for such a long time and help each other get through everything. It’s sad that my description of this song doesn’t do justice to the depth and meaningfulness of the lyrics. It might even be window into Torquil and Moya’s marriage?

Two other songs in this album worth mentioning are “Incredibly Drunk On Whiskey” and “A Ghost Story”. The first is probably the most light-hearted song of the album, whereas in contrast, the other is probably the most serious. I’m not sure what the whiskey song is about, but it’s possibly about being underaged and going to the megaplex to try to steal some alcohol (could be wrong). The second song is more obviously about a child being haunted by ghosts and then growing up to become a ghost to haunt other people. But I wonder if this could be a metaphor for something else?

Memphis is Chris Dumont (producer and guitars) and Torquil Campbell (words and voice), but includes contributions by long time friend James Shaw of Metric (mixer and bass). The album was released in August 2006 by the Good Fences Label. This album is a hard one to find on mininova, so if you like the sample offered below, I encourage you to get the album.

Memphis – A Little Place in the Wilderness
Memphis – I Dreamed We Fell Apart
Memphis – I’ll Do Whatever You Want

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— , November 29, 2007    Comments Off on Memphis: A Little Place in the Wilderness

As their title track and album cover might suggest, The Pipettes would seem to be just another girl band trio, and are composed of members Rosay, RiotBecki, and Gwenno (top image: from left to right). But it would be misleading to say that they are “just another girl band trio”. First of all, there are actually seven members. The four male band members you’ll probably never see on a photoshoot provide the dance-punk musical accompaniment. The instrumental component of the band is independently known as The Cassettes, and includes guitarist and solo musician Monster Bobby who founded The Pipettes with former band member Julia Clark-Lowes. Secondly, it’s arguably unfair to say that they’re “just another” power pop band. It’s actually a little bit of a controversy about how disposable this band might turn out to be. Given their manufactured origins and their post-retro 60s theme that motifs in the front girls’ polka-dot uniforms and finger-waving dance choreography, the band seems almost gimmicky. However, all that seems to be deliberate, and what’s more, they pull it off so damn well. One might even dare to think that The Pipettes actually have the potential to stay around long enough to make a chart-topping third album. One would hope so, because I personally haven’t had enough of these darlings!

Their debut album We Are The Pipettes was released in the U.K. just over a year ago by Memphis Industries, but has only been released in the U.S. last month by Cherrytree Records. The Pipettes are currently touring Canada and will be performing at Lee’s Palace next week on November 18th.

“Pull Shapes” by The Pipettes

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— , November 10, 2007    1 Comment